Microsoft, Amazon and Google infrastructure-centric: Why the cloud is increasingly ‘magic’

Opinion We hear the term ‘the year of the cloud’ many times. I profess that it is ‘the decade of the cloud’ – and what’s more, we haven’t even really started yet.

Having been in the cloud industry for more than 12 years, and had a wealth of opportunity to engage with business across vertical sectors – from small local businesses to global enterprises and across geographic regions – I have witnessed an evolutionary change in acceptance of cloud technologies. This has gone from adamant “we resist” no-cloud policies through to “all in” cloud-first strategies.

We seem to have settled down now into a world where there is acceptance that cloud options should always be considered and the fear of cloud has diminished to a point where questions are asked and diligence done – rightly so, but as a necessary checkpoint, rather than a barrier to progressing.

Cloud is going to rapidly proliferate, not through the name – who says ‘I want some cloud’? – but due to the accelerated and rapid growth of emerging technologies powered by cloud somewhere or somehow. These are fast becoming the norm in everyday life and are appearing on business agendas across sectors. We find big data, AI, IoT, VR, and even drones all appearing in ever more interesting and applicable ways, with their prices becoming consumable by even the smallest of firms. By 2020, we can expect to be seeing AI and IoT increasingly in our everyday lives – often transparent to us, and with cloud hidden away powering their wonderous delivery.

We now hear the terms edge computing and fog computing, as well as wider use of ‘as a service’ as the cloud sector matures. With this maturing comes a wave of change in the underlying delivery mechanisms and platforms.

We started with hosting, data centres hosting your own racked equipment, or providing racks where you could remotely install your applications onto your own single tenancy instance. Heading towards 2020, we are seeing an acceleration of re-platforming and customers moving their workloads to the public cloud, where the early concerns have gone and we now see compute and storage costs constantly reducing on what is known as the race to zero (who will be the first to give it away?). This whilst performance, reliability and function have increased. We have never seen a time in compute previously where the power and function went up at as high an exponential as prices are coming down.

Compounding this is technology vendors who are themselves re-platforming, moving their SaaS offerings from their own hosted data centres to the likes of the big three – AWS, Azure, or Google. We have seen major technology SaaS firms doing this and, in my experience, both where I have worked and those I know well in the sector, this is increasingly commonplace. Cloud firms are realising their core is the IP and expertise, not running the traditional cloud infrastructure itself. Add to this that we are seeing a growth of hosting firms, traditionally fighting against these public cloud giants, not getting on board, instead reselling their hosting and wrapping their cloud expertise around the unbeatable ‘compute power <> price’ ratio that the goliaths can deliver.

By 2020, we can expect cheaper prices throughout the cloud chain, the emergence of eye-opening new tech at home and in the workplace – and a change under the covers of how the cloud providers themselves deliver and monetarise their own offerings.

Ian Moyse is a cloud industry thought leader and cloud sales director at Natterbox.

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